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How to Frame a Roof

How to Frame a Roof

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August 28, 2006

Learn Roof Framing Basics

Framing a roof might seem intimidating. It's more complex than framing walls but it is still very do-able by the average do-it-yourselfer. The key is planning and breaking the different tasks down into small steps. Traditional roof framing is done just like building walls…one piece at a time.

The gable frame is the most common roof type consisting of two sloping sides that meet at a center ride. End gables form triangular walls that allow for window or vent openings. The "pitch" especially in colder climates should be steep pitched to allow snow to fall from the roof without building up massively. Another positive factor of the gable shape it that it stands up better in areas with high winds.

The basics of how to frame a roof begins with setting ridges and rafters. The ridge board (the top board that holds the rafters in place) must be installed before you begin to place the rafters. You"ll want to build a plumb post securely braced to temporarily support the ridge board. The ridge board is the board the rafters are joined to at the top of your roof.

The next step is to measure the rafter cut. Use a bevel square to measure the rafter cut. This is where the rafter meets the ridge board. This angle is what determines the pitch of your roof. It's a good idea as you're learning how to frame a roof to get one rafter perfect and use it as a template for the others.

How to Frame a Roof

The ends of the roof rafters nestle on the double plate of exterior walls with a notch called a bird's mouth. They should fit securely and smoothly.

You"ll use your bevel square to mark the ridge angle at the overhang. Most use two cuts, one vertical and one horizontal. Use a framing square or level to mark the horizontal cut. Once you have one rafter complete with a good fit, use it to mark your other rafters.

Once the rafters are in place you"ll need to install the roof sheathing. The roof sheathing stabilizes the roof and provides a nail base for the roofing materials. Plywood is normally used for sheathing a roof.

To speed up how to frame a roof you may want to consider using pre-built roof trusses. More than two-thirds of homes built today use factory built roof trusses. They are very uniform and easy to install.

Los Angeles, CA

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